Michael Jordaan to chair Mxit

Outgoing FNB CEO Michael Jordaan has been appointed chairman of the board at Mxit. By Craig Wilson.

Michael Jordaan

Michael Jordaan

First National Bank’s tech-savvy CEO, Michael Jordaan, has been appointed chairman of the board of mobile messaging company Mxit.

The appointment is effective immediately and, although Jordaan won’t be getting paid in the position and won’t be taking a stake in the company at first, he has the option to do so at a later date.

Jordaan announced in May that he would leave FNB at the end of the year, with his colleague Jacques Celliers taking the reins.

When he announced his resignation from FNB, Jordaan hinted that he was interested in looking into “innovation technology” and said he wanted to be “active in the entrepreneurial space”.

“I have been watching Mxit with interest for several years now. It is difficult not to have a sense of pride about a homegrown South African company making such an impact in the social media and mobile space. It was an easy decision to join as chairman and I am looking forward to playing a part in the future of Mxit, both in South Africa and internationally,” says Jordaan in a statement.

“Mxit is a really cool company and has built some world-first innovations over the last eight years. I have spent some time with their development and design team and they have shown me some of the projects they are working on, especially in the smartphone space. I look forward to the announcements that are planned over the next few months.”

Under Jordaan, FNB repositioned itself as a tech-savvy bank. It was the first South African bank to launch a transactional banking application for smartphones, and subsidises smartphones and tablet computers for its customers in order to enable them to use the app.

This has helped it drive down costs by reducing the need for customers to visit branches.

Jordaan is replacing Roger Grobler as Mxit chair. Grobler heads Mxit India and took on the role of chairman after the leadership changes last October when then-CEO Alan Knott-Craig quit after reportedly clashing with shareholders over strategy.

Last month, Mxit appointed acting acting CEO Francois Swart as the company’s permanent CEO. Swart took on the role in the wake of Knott-Craig’s departure in October.

A Mxit spokesman says that although Grobler has been “phenomenal” in the role, he lives in India and is “focused on growing that market” and thus it “made sense” to find someone in South Africa to take the position. The spokesman adds that Jordaan’s taking a stake in Mxit is not a prerequisite of his appointment but that he will have the option to do so later should he wish to. Jordaan will not be paid for his new role. The appointment is effective immediately.

Two of Mxit’s biggest shareholders are former leaders of FNB parent FirstRand: GT Ferreira and Paul Harris. “Having a business heavyweight of Jordaan’s calibre on the board of directors is no doubt a sign of great things to come from Mxit,” says Harris.

Jordaan on Monday morning took to Twitter and said cryptically: “Great speaking to Mxit staff as their new chairman, using quotes from Game of Thrones and analogies from Breaking Bad.”  — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media

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